Kiltinan or Kiltinane Church (Tipperary)

This figure was stolen in 1990.
As at Tullavin Castle, one hand is up to the head, another indicates the vulva,
and the jig-dancing stance is nicely asymmetrical.

It was set sideways on a quoin.

compare with the Indian motif of the dancing god or goddess >

The vogue for setting these figures sideways may have been influenced by figures of devils, tempters and sinners,
also set sideways, on the friezes which accompanied the corbel-tables of some English and French Romanesque churches


as at Villers-Saint-Paul (Oise)...

...and Etton near Beverley, East Yorkshire.



This was one of the earliest figures to be 'identified' as a sheela-ny-gigg.

The term first appears (twice) in 1840 in Volume II of the Ordnance Survey Letters of John O'Donovan, pages 541-549.

Mention of the Kiltinan figure by John O'Donovan.

click to enlarge

"Kiltinan - Figure of Sheela-Ny-Gigg spoken of by Mr [....]
sculptured in corner stone in W gable of Kiltinan Old Church near Fethard.
Said by tradition to have been set up to annoy the [....)
Similar figure on a corner stone of Ballyfinboy old castle near Borrisokane,
and also on Castle of Shane in Queen's Co. [Offaly] [....]
see the figure of sheela-ny-gigg mentioned by Mr O'Conor under Kiltinan Pk in Vol II."


His colleague, Thomas O'Conor, described and pondered thus on the same figure :

The above is part of a nine-page disquisition on the previously-unrecorded phenomenon.
Click to read the complete text


Entries in O'Donovan's index.


It was not far away from Kiltinan[e] that the name first arose in the mid-19th century, when a local man
was reportedly asked about a 'lewd figure' on the ruined church at Rochestown.
His mumbled reply to the antiquarian was recorded as: It's just an oul' sheela-na-gig.
He might equally have said: It's just an oul' thingumajig.